Dembele must sign new deal or leave Barca, says coach Xavi Hernandez

Barcelona, Jan 19 (IANS) Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has urged Ousmane Dembele to make a final decision on whether he is willing to renew his contract, which is set to expire next summer or the club will look for an exit for him.

“I don’t want to disrespect anyone. The message is clear. Either he renews or we search for an exit solution,” said Xavi at a press conference on Wednesday.

“We are in a complicated situation and we have been very clear with Ousmane. He wants to stay but it has not been agreed so we have to make a decision as a club and that is either to renew or find an exit. It’s a shame. He has played every possible minute since I have been coach,” the coach said.

It had been reported that Barcelona were yet to decide on a firm plan in the case Dembele does not renew. But it seems the decision has been made, at least on Barca’s side, with Dembele’s camp yet to provide a definitive answer.

Barcelona are desperate to avoid Dembele leaving on a free transfer when his contract expires in the summer and would at least pocket a fee for the 24-year-old if he is sold in the current transfer window.

Dembele has suffered numerous injuries since joining Barca from Borussia Dortmund in a deal worth 140 million euros (158.9 million dollars), in 2017. Yet after losing several key players to reduce the club’s debts, Barcelona have been keen to keep the Frenchman, who remains one of the team’s most talented players. Xavi would not confirm whether Dembele will be involved on Thursday when Barcelona play away at Athletic Bilbao in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey.



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